Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dr. Palma of the Human Behavior Lab Presents Findings on KBTX First News at Four

Why do people lie, cheat and steal? Dr. Marco Palma, of the Human Behavior Lab, presented the findings of a paper he wrote with former ERL student Dr. Billur Aksoy on KBTX’s First News at Four. The team discovered two main findings:

  1. Cheating/dishonesty is a personality trait and not necessarily due to their environment (which is the commonly held belief).
  2. When people are poor they are more generous than when they are rich.

You can find out more about the study in the video below as well as here and here.

Doctoral Student Wins Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship Award

Billur Aksoy, a fiffd854852-4b2a-4241-b058-41b8f7aff094th-year behavioral economics doctoral student, won the U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship Award. The award is for $5,000 and funds the research of doctoral candidates. Billur (pictured) was one of eight Texas A&M University doctoral candidates who received the award.

Some requirements for being considered for the Phil Gramm Award include having a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; as many as two letters of support from faculty members, peers, or past students; a reputation for scholarly behavior; and have taught on at least a one-half time basis for two semesters or summer sessions (10 weeks) during his or her doctoral enrollment at Texas A&M University.

Senator Gramm served as an economics professor at Texas A&M for nearly a decade before being elected in 1979 to the U.S. House of Representatives for Texas’ sixth district, where he served until serving as a U.S. Senator for the state from 1985 – 2002.

Congratulations, Billur!

Portions of this article use language from an article by Steve Kuhlmann. For more information on the award, please see Kuhlmann’s original article below:


Texas A&M Experimental Economists Present at 2018 TExAS Meeting

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, members of Texas A&M University’s experimental economics group attended and participated in the fourth annual Texas Experimental Association Symposium (TExAS) Meeting. This year’s TExAS Meeting was held at Trinity University.
Presenters and topics from Texas A&M included:

  • Billur Aksoy: “The Effect of Scarcity on In-Group Bias in Pro-Social and Moral Behavior: Evidence from Coffee Farmers in Guatemala”
  • Noah Bacine: “An Investigation into How Identity Affects Trust” (Poster)
  • Marco Castillo, PhD: “The Long Lasting Effects of Political Violence on Risk Preferences”
  • Catherine Eckel, PhD: “Using Behavioral Experiments to Predict the Decision to Evacuate: The Tale of a Coastal Town and Hurricane Harvey” (Poster)
  • Manuel Hoffmann: “Why Do People Not Vaccinate?”
  • Ragan Petrie, PhD: “Optimal Incentives to Encourage a Charitable Donation”
  • Ryan Rholes: “Coase Theorem in a Digital Environment: A Replication and Extension”


Congratulations to all of our presenters!

Doctoral Student Receives National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

Billur Aksoy, a fifth year PhD student, received the highly competitive National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant ($20,055) with her co-advisor Dr. Silvana Krasteva. Billur and Silvana use economic theory and laboratory experiments to investigate whether providing more information about the value of a public good at the fundraising stage can encourage more donations. The research first develops a theoretical model to investigate the effects of providing information about the project’s value on expected contributions. It predicts that the generosity level of the population plays an important role in how agents respond to information. In particular, information has the potential to increase average contributions in less generous population but may decrease them in more generous population. The researchers then use laboratory experiments to test the predictions of this model, which provide strong evidence in support of the theory. The results of this research have important policy implications for fundraising and public policies related to information provision.

Congratulations, Billur!


Doctoral Student Presents at “EmPOWERing Women Leadership Conference”

On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, Noah Bacine (a fifth-year doctoral student in behavioral economics) presented at the fourth annual “EmPOWERing Women Leadership Conference” in Austin, TX.

Noah presented on a panel that discussed “Is Work-Based ‘Housework’ Perpetuating the Glass Ceiling?” His presentation offered academic research on the disproportionate allocation of “non-promotable tasks” assigned to women in the workplace. Panelists discussed their personal experiences, the impact on career trajectories, and strategies for change.

Congratulations, Noah!



Peter Moffatt, University of East Anglia (U.K.), Visits Texas A&M University

From January 22 – 26, 2018, Dr. Peter Moffatt, professor of econometrics in the School of Economics at the University of East Anglia (U.K.), visited Texas A&M University as a joint guest of the Department of Economics and the Department of Sociology.

On January 22, Dr. Moffatt presented a behavioral economics seminar on the topic of “Strategic Interaction with Sophisticated Agents.” On January 26, he presented a day-long workshop on experimetrics in Rudder Tower that was attended by faculty and graduate students from various TAMU departments. Throughout the week, he met with various members of TAMU’s economics community (both faculty and students) to discuss research and opportunities for future collaboration.

Dr. Moffatt’s research has been focused in the area of “experimetrics,” the econometric modeling of data from experiments. (His recent book is Experimetrics: Econometrics for Experimental Economics.) In particular, he is interested in ways of incorporating between-subject heterogeneity into models.

Dr. Moffatt previously visited the Department of Economics in 2015.

2017 SEA Meeting Presentations by Texas A&M University

The 87th Annual Meeting of the Southern Economic Association (SEA) took place from November 17 – 19, 2017, in Tampa, FL.

Dr. Ragan Petrie organized and chaired three sessions for SEA’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP). The topics were “Advice for Job Seekers and Early Career” (professional development panel); “Women and Minorities in the Economics Profession: Status, Perspectives, and Interventions”; and “Talking to the Media” (professional development panel).

A number of TAMU’s behavioral economics doctoral students also presented at the conference. Topics included:

  • Billur Aksoy: “Donors’ Response to News: When Does Less Information Translate into More Giving?”
  • Mackenzie Alston: “Perspectives on the Status of Women and Minorities in Other Fields” (part of Dr. Petrie’s CSWEP session on “Women and Minorities in the Economics Profession: Status, Perspectives, and Interventions”)
  • Noah Bacine: “Gender, Culture, and Competition”
  • Ada Kovaliukaite: “Testing Cognitive Hierarchy Assumptions”
  • Abigail Peralta: “Does Electoral Pressure Lead to Better Government Performance?”

Congratulations, everyone!